……Shit. I’ve gotta do a Btooom! review.
**Review: **Ahhh, the “I’m trapped in a video game and must get out” genre of anime…what a roller coaster you can be! I’m not sure if I’m a fan of this genre yet, or if I ever will be. Sometimes, you can get a relatively quality anime with good, quality characters and a decent story like Log Horizon. You can also have well-animated action with an epic soundtrack like Sword Art Online. Unfortunately, you can also wind up with a story that doesn’t actually follow the original premise and ends up as a dribbling mess…also like Sword Art Online. And then sometimes you just end up realizing that anime ends in the middle of everything and doesn’t end up resolving any of the plot points you once thought to be relevant and important. That’s exactly what happens in Btooom! But before I get to that, maybe I should actually state the premise. The foundation of the show is that our male friend, Ryouta Sakamoto, is astoundingly good at a certain first-person shooter (well kinda) called “Btooom!” One day, he just randomly wakes up on a remote island with a small amount of provisions, limited weaponry, and the clothes on his back. He realizes that he is basically stuck on an island that emulates his favorite game and has to fight his way off of it. He meets the bodacious, teen blonde, Himiko, and the lumbering, middle-aged man, Yuzuhiko Taira, along the way. And so, our motley trio goes along an epic journey to make it off the island and the live happily ever after. How fucking original. To it’s credit, Btooom! does put it’s own original twists on the video game genre.One is that the only weapons used are bombs and that there are different types of bombs for all different uses. I thought this aspect was actually kinda cool and I give it a thumbs-up for originality. The other twist is a spoiler…so yeah. But this is about as far as my praise will go with this show because it pretty much tripped and fell flat on its face in most of the other aspects. One of the issues that I had with the show is that it tried to make the genre way darker than it needed to be. In some of the other video game related anime, there were some bleaker moments and characters did get wrapped up in some more desperate situations. But I think Btooom! went out of it’s way to try and incorporate tragedy and unpleasantries into the backstories of a majority of the characters. I mean, this worked in the show’s favor a few times, but it mostly just made it seem like the show was trying too hard to be a deep, psychological look on humanity as a whole rather than being an intense, action series. But where Btooom! really manages to shoot itself in the foot is with the ending. I’ll try not to go too much into detail, but I feel like Btooom! was really supposed to be a 24-episode series and they just cut it off at 12 for some reason. In other words, it is the anime equivalent to cutting off a conversation mid-sentence. And this aspect really fuckin’ bothered me, especially when the anime had some legitimate potential going for it. Not to mention, since the ending was basically cut off, a ton of plot points that were risen earlier in the show never properly get explained which is a huge turn-off for me. Alas, these are not the only areas that the show managed to completely botch.
**Characters: **Seriously, I may just start ranting here. The characters in this show are easily the second biggest weak point behind the terrible excuse that it has for an ending…but where to start? Our turd-of-a-main character, Ryouta, is your stereotypical video game addict that stays cooped up in his room all day, slowly getting absorbed into his monitor. He’s also a huge douche-canoe to his parents whenever they say anything. Himiko is your super-hot, click bait, high school transfer student that just happens to also love video games. And Taira is a middle-aged businessman who is relatively normal all things considered. Aside from them, there’s a slew of other characters in the show I could talk about, but that’d be wasting my time. And that’s kind of what bothers me.All of the side characters that get introduced are brought into the show with purpose and relevance to the plot, but somehow, none of their motivations or feelings toward our main crew ever get resolved even though it is made apparent by the end of the series that these characters are still around and still have the same intentions as they did when you met them. The show has a habit of making characters seem important and then just tossing them aside after a few episodes like a used tissue. At least the show has the decency to give some of them backstories, even if they don’t end up mattering. Our main cast is also just kinda bland with the exception of Himiko, but that’s because she may or may not be “all-there” mentally for specific reasons that I won’t get into. The main cast also gets zero character development and basically remains static the whole time. Lastly, the show likes to portray all men as scheming, sex-hungry animals with seemingly no self-control whatsoever. Though I’m all for gender equality, I’m not okay with what they do here.
**Animation/Sound: **Ok. Finally. Another section that I can give the show some credit. The animation for Btooom! was done by Madhouse who has done countless other action series (Black Lagoon, Trigun, Claymore, and High School of the Dead just to name a few). Though not all of those shows may be good (cough HOTD cough), the animation in those shows is stellar because Madhouse tends to hold a really lofty standard when it comes to action. Though Btooom! may not be at the pinnacle of Madhouse’s repertoire, it still holds some decent animation and is definitely animated better than a lot of other shows out there. The soundtrack I will only mention briefly because to be honest, I don’t really remember it. But that alone should say something. If I remember correctly, I think it’s just mainly comprised of fast-paced techno/electronic/rock tunes that can easily be overlooked. Though I may be wrong about the actual music style, the music is still forgettable, ’cause I sure did.
**Overall: **The reason I hate on Btooom! so much is because of the same reason I rag on stuff like SAO and Deadman Wonderland (only I rag on Btooom! to a greater extent). That reason is because it was completely wasted potential. Though the concept wasn’t necessarily completely original, the show did try to give itself some semblance of originality by adding its own bend on things…even if it ended up backfiring in the end. And even though it wasn’t original, the premise was interesting enough to keep me watching at first. The animation is also not half bad; it’s not amazing by any means, but it’s definitely not the worst. The show really manages to shit its own pants when it comes to the ending and the character department. The show fully neglected the side cast and basically hung them out to dry, even when it originally introduced them as being integral parts of the plot. The main characters can’t even begin to try and save the show because of how bland and angsty they can be and how they get about as much development as a man’s chest. The show also manages to make men seem like the worst things ever. I don’t even want to mention the ending again. Just thinking about all the unresolved plot points and complete lack of any sense of closure makes me want to scream profanities out my window. However, in spite of all of this, if you like some decently animated action and a somewhat-interesting basic plot line, you could probably enjoy this to some extent. If you’re into video games, specifically first-person shooters, you’ll also potentially get some enjoyment out of this. I mean, it wasn’t a complete waste of my time. I just have no intent of watching it ever again. But for most people, the shit ending and utter neglect of all the characters make this show worthy of skipping. However, I won’t say it’s not worth trying to watch either because this show does have its moments…even if they’re sparse. But in all, I suggest watching Black Lagoon instead.
Overall, I give it an underwhelming 5.4/10. Greg’s Rating Scale.